The Your Story, Our Story Object and accompanying essay used in this activity is a personal story highlighting how im/migration impacted one American family. This personal story helps us understand the larger American im/migration experience.
Educators are encouraged to select one activity (or use all the activity ideas) as part of a larger lesson on im/migration or the Chinese Exclusion Act.
Instruct students to view the Sunglasses image and read the object essay, then tell them to answer the associated discussion questions. Next, tell students they will examine how U.S. immigration policy has changed over time. Direct students to research the following moments in U.S. history (note: a handout will be provided to help students record their findings/research):
Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882
Immigration Act of 1924
Immigration Act of 1965
Then tell students to write an essay comparing and contrasting the three different immigration policies. Students can use the evidence collected in their handout to help them complete this task.
Examining Political Cartoons
Political cartoons present a window into important issues at critical points in American history. Tell students to examine the political cartoons below in the Cartoon Images handout and think about how they represent Chinese immigration to the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries:
Next, ask students to examine the cartoons a little more closely. Then distribute the Cartoon Analysis handout to help them interpret the information presented in the images more closely.
Culminating Activity: Create Your Own Object Story!
In the above activities, students analyzed a series of primary source documents related to im/migration or the Chinese Exclusion Act. Now it’s time for them to create their own primary source document! Distribute the Create Your Object Story handout to your students.
Tell students it’s time to be historians in their own im/migration experience and utilize the handout to complete the following:
Identify a family im/migration object
Write an essay about its meaning to you and your family